Faced with shortage of numbers, telecom major Vodafone India on Monday said it will discontinue services on mobile numbers of prepaid customers that have not been in use for a continuous period of 60 days.
"Vodafone India will discontinue mobile services for prepaid customers on numbers that have no usage i.e., no voice calls (incoming or outgoing), SMS and data for any continuous period of 60 days," Vodafone said in a statement.
Vodafone's steps follow the guidelines by the Department of Telecom (DoT) for allocation of a new number series that based on subscribers on visitor location register (VLR). The Vodafone statement added that the stringent norms has created an acute shortage of numbers for any telecom company.
This means that after discontinuing services to the customer, Vodafone will be able to allocate the same number to a new user.
There was no clarity, however, on the issue with regard to subscribers with life-time tariff package.
New customers will be intimated of the deactivation process in their starter kits, while existing customers will be informed via SMS and outbound calls wherever possible, it said.
According to the data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), mobile subscriber base increased to 881.4 million by October-end from 873.61 million in the preceding month.
However, the number of active mobile subscribers, according to the visitor location register (VLR) data, during the month of was 626.18 million.
VLR numbers provide details on active customers at any given point of time, excluding switched-off and out-of-the-coverage area customers.
With the explosive growth in the Indian mobile telephony space, there is a concern among telecom operators running out of mobile numbers for allocation.
In the past, the government has examined the option of migrating to 11-digit cellular number from the current 10-digit in order to accommodate more users.
However, the government later opened up other series, allowing operators to move from the '98' series to other series like '88' and '78', among others.